No Wonder They’re Behind Department. The political opposition has given itself a deadline for rounding up the 79 signatures. "That [Tuesday] is also our target," Rep. Ronaldo Zamora told reporters. At this point (the weekend before a possibly crucial vote in the Committee on Justice), the pro-impeachment camp is behind in the numbers game, with almost all of their hopes pinned on the conjugal partnership of Sen. Manuel and Rep. Cynthia Villar. ("Senator Villar is playing for higher stakes," Zamora noted impishly.)
Here’s one possible reason why, a month after the impeachment complaints were referred to the committee, the opposition is still playing catch up. From an ANC interview with "opposition lawyer" Harry Roque:
Without the 79, it’s over, and that’s why in fact, I have allowed the congressmen to take the lead in this initiative. I have asked the legal to take a backseat because what we are witnessing now is a political play more than a legal play.
I don’t know which is more revealing: the fact that Roque has realized that impeachment is a political process only belatedly, or that, apparently ("I have allowed the congressmen to take the lead"), he calls the shots.
Stretching It Too Thin Department. In the same ABS-CBN story, the spokesman of the President’s impeachment team, lawyer Romulo Makalintal, admitted that if the opposition gained79 signatures, it "opens the possibility" that the President would in fact be impeached. And then he added:
"The rules state that they should have 79 votes at the time of filing. A creeping impeachment does not apply. Even with 79 votes, it could still be killed in the House plenary," Macalintal said.
No, it can’t. The constitutional provisions on impeachment actually provide for the tyranny of the minority (to, ah, coin a phrase). Thus, paragraph 3 of Section 3 of Article XI declares:
A vote of at least one-third of all the Members of the House shall be necessary either to affirm a favorable resolution with the Articles of Impeachment of the Committee, or override its contrary resolution.
Thus, with 79 votes, even an anti-impeachment decision at the committee level can be overturned at the plenary.